Better Health: Smart Health Commentary Better Health (TM): smart health commentary

Latest Posts

At-Home Psychotherapy For The Super Bowl FAN (Football Attention Neurosis)

So it’s Super Bowl Sunday and the fans are psychiatric patients waiting to happen — the beer and the beer and the beer, and maybe the fights will break out, and they’ll all end up in therapy. Oh, the angst and the panic, and the pre-game anxiety, and the post-game euphoria or depression.

New York Times reporter Benedict Carey talks about treatment options in his article, “A Home Treatment Kit for Super Bowl Suffering.” Mr. Carey suggests:

Breathing exercises are highly recommended and become increasingly important as the football contest nears the fourth quarter, when events on the field are likely to prompt strong physiological reactions, like a pounding heart, hyperventilation, even dizziness. These internal cues, as they’re called, can escalate the feeling of panic, a self-reinforcing cycle resulting in groans and cries that can be frightening to small children, pets and sometimes neighbors.

In the final minutes of the game, be forewarned: Many patients will move beyond the reach of therapy. Their faces may change, their breathing appear to stop. Researchers have not determined whether this state is closer to Buddhist meditation or to the experience of freefall from an airplane. All that is known is that, once in it, patients will fall back on primal coping methods, behaviors learned in childhood within the cultural context of their family.

Like emitting screams. Or leaping in an animated way, as if the floor were on fire. Or falling on their back and moving their arms and legs like an overturned beetle, in celebratory fashion.

This post is dedicated to my husband and son.

*This blog post was originally published at Shrink Rap*

Human Touch: Does It Belong In Medicine?

Doctor holding patient's handThe New York Times asks: “Should the doctor hold a patient’s hand” during emotional times? The comments that follow the short article are the most interesting. Most readers say this question shouldn’t even be asked and that human compassion should always win out. Touch is a human gesture of comfort and understanding.

But some readers disagree. One said she recoiled when the doctor reached out to touch her hand after telling her that her cancer had returned. It felt really creepy to her. Another asked: “What if the physician is also a Catholic priest or a pediatrician and a priest?” Whoa. It becomes more complex when you get into the psyche of the abused.

I have often thought that one of the appeals of chiropractors is that they “lay on hands” and touch and manipulate patients. With 21st century modern medicine, physicians can treat entire episodes of illness with tests, scans and robots and never actually touch the patient. No wonder people feel “dehumanized” and wonder if doctors really care. Touch and compassion are part of the entire human experience and the physician is present during a patient’s most stressful time. But wait, there’s another side. Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at EverythingHealth*

Social Media As Personal Therapy

Last week Robert Scoble announced on Cinchcast the news that his son, Milan, had just been diagnosed with autism. I often listen to his Cinchcasts, and the disappointment in his voice was heartbreaking.

Then I began to wonder: If one of my children were to receive a devastating diagnosis, would my first impulse be to share the news on a public platform? Probably not. And that, among a number of obvious things, is what differentiates me from Robert Scoble.

Everyone’s got their transparency threshold. You can see it with attitudes surrounding location applications. The importance of community to each of us varies tremendously. Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at 33 Charts*

The Right To Mourn

Grief and lossI seem to have had a run on bereavement recently, in that I’ve had several patients who have lost loved ones. Some have wound up in my office for unrelated complaints, only to have the grief spill out. I’ve become aware of the struggles of others via Facebook.

I’ve found this handout (from Family Practice Management several years ago) to be very useful. I keep copies in my office and hand them out when needed, but it occurs to me that having another way to disseminate this helpful information would be a good idea. Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at Musings of a Dinosaur*

When You Get Sick: The Character Of Those Around You

There’s an endless list of bad things about being sick. But what happens to the relationships you have with people around you when you become ill?

Let me tell you about a man I know. I will call him Bill, even though that’s not his real name.

Bill is a vital man in his 60s with two grown daughters. A few years ago, he was diagnosed with a serious illness. His illness isn’t going to kill him right away, but it has profoundly affected his ability to work and enjoy all the things he used to enjoy. Worse, he has had a difficult time with his doctors figuring out what exactly is wrong and the best way to proceed.

But all of this isn’t really the hardest part for Bill. The hard part for Bill is how his friends and family have reacted. Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at See First Blog*

Latest Interviews

IDEA Labs: Medical Students Take The Lead In Healthcare Innovation

It’s no secret that doctors are disappointed with the way that the U.S. healthcare system is evolving. Most feel helpless about improving their work conditions or solving technical problems in patient care. Fortunately one young medical student was undeterred by the mountain of disappointment carried by his senior clinician mentors…

Read more »

How To Be A Successful Patient: Young Doctors Offer Some Advice

I am proud to be a part of the American Resident Project an initiative that promotes the writing of medical students residents and new physicians as they explore ideas for transforming American health care delivery. I recently had the opportunity to interview three of the writing fellows about how to…

Read more »

See all interviews »

Latest Cartoon

See all cartoons »

Latest Book Reviews

Book Review: Is Empathy Learned By Faking It Till It’s Real?

I m often asked to do book reviews on my blog and I rarely agree to them. This is because it takes me a long time to read a book and then if I don t enjoy it I figure the author would rather me remain silent than publish my…

Read more »

The Spirit Of The Place: Samuel Shem’s New Book May Depress You

When I was in medical school I read Samuel Shem s House Of God as a right of passage. At the time I found it to be a cynical yet eerily accurate portrayal of the underbelly of academic medicine. I gained comfort from its gallows humor and it made me…

Read more »

Eat To Save Your Life: Another Half-True Diet Book

I am hesitant to review diet books because they are so often a tangled mess of fact and fiction. Teasing out their truth from falsehood is about as exhausting as delousing a long-haired elementary school student. However after being approached by the authors’ PR agency with the promise of a…

Read more »

See all book reviews »